State Regulations Require Periodic Sanitary Survey Inspections
- Sanitary Survey Field Guide (PDF)
- Third-Party Sanitary Survey Checklist, Schematic, and Sanitary Control Area (SCA) Map (Word)
- Sanitary Surveys of Drinking Water Systems (PDF), a two-page fact sheet that explains how to prepare for a sanitary survey.
A sanitary survey is a periodic inspection of water system facilities, operations and records used to identify conditions that may present a sanitary or public health risk. Washington state drinking water rules require all Group A public drinking water systems to have a routine sanitary survey once every three to five years.
The Department of Health Office of Drinking Water (ODW) conducts sanitary surveys. However, in some counties, ODW contracts with local health jurisdiction staff or an independent consultant to conduct the surveys.
Preparing for your system's sanitary survey
ODW staff will notify you when a sanitary survey is required. The surveyor will then contact you to arrange a time to conduct the survey. The surveyor will try to meet your scheduling needs. Water systems that do not schedule a survey will receive another notice with a deadline for obtaining an inspection. Failure to comply with this requirement may result in:
- Increased monthly coliform monitoring to five samples per month.
- A red operating permit.
- State significant non-complier status and possible civil penalties.
Eight minimum components of all routine sanitary surveys
- Planning and management documents.
- Distribution system and status of cross-connection control program.
- Source and sanitary control area.
- Source pumps and pumping facilities.
- Source treatment procedures and equipment.
- Monitoring, reporting, and data verification.
- Finished water storage.
- Operator certification status.
ODW or your local health jurisdiction collects your sanitary survey fee. If ODW collects the fee, you will get a bill with your final inspection report. If the local health jurisdiction collects the fee, it is payable when they schedule a survey or when you get your final inspection report.
The sanitary survey fee change goes into effect January 2014. We've created a question and answer document (PDF) with more information.
Sanitary survey inspection steps
- ODW informs you when you need to have a sanitary survey.
- You and the surveyor agree on a survey date.
- You arrange for system personnel to be available on the survey date so they can share system records, and show the surveyor around the water system.
- You prepare for the inspection by gathering, reviewing, and organizing records to share with the surveyor (Water Facility Inventories, water quality results, maintenance records and so on).
- System personnel meet with the surveyor to discuss records and provide a tour of the system facilities, pump house, treatment unit, storage, booster pumps, distribution system, and so on.
- After the survey, the surveyor will give you and ODW a completed survey checklist and summary report of findings. Be sure to read the report carefully; it describes deficiencies found during the inspection.
- ODW will review the report and notify you in writing if any immediate follow-up action is required.
- You complete any corrections identified in the survey report and ODW follow-up letter. You are responsible for correcting significant deficiencies promptly. ODW expects you to correct other, less critical, deficiencies in a timely fashion, and definitely by the next survey.
- You notify ODW in writing when the corrections are complete, or ask ODW for an extension to complete the work.
- ODW tracks any significant deficiencies until you correct them.
- You keep a copy of the survey results and any notification or compliance letters for your records.
- Simple Fixes for Wellhead Openings (PDF, DOH 331-232)
A one-page illustrated guide to fixing common problems that small drinking water systems encounter in protecting wellheads from contamination.
Sanitary Protection of Reservoirs - Hatches (PDF, DOH 331-249)
A one-page illustrated guide with tips for small water system operators on how to deal with storage reservoir hatches.
Sanitary Protection of Reservoirs - Vents (PDF, DOH 331-250)
A one-page illustrated guide with tips for small water system operators on how to deal with storage reservoir vents.
Pressure Relief Valves on Pressure Tanks (PDF, DOH 331-429)
A one-page illustrated guide to determining the proper way to protect pressurized storage tanks from over-pressurization and catastrophic failure.
Chlorine Contact Time (PDF, DOH 311-343)
A one-page general guide illustrating the principles used in determining the level of contact time and the free chlorine residual necessary to achieve 4-log inactivation of viruses in groundwater.
- Pre-Survey Data Packet. Log into Sentry Internet and click on "Downloads/Reports"
- Recommended References to carry in the field
If you have questions, call (800) 521-0323 or ODW regional office in your area:
Southwest Regional Office - Denise Miles, 360-236-3028
Northwest Regional Office - Brian Boye, 253-395-6778
Eastern Regional Office - Mark Steward, 509-329-2136